About the Author
Dr Greg Mills is the Director of the Brenthurst Foundation. He previously served as the National Director of the South African Institute of International Affairs from 1996 to 2005.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Lessons from Afghanistan and Iraq are contained in the experiences, a decade earlier, of the ill-fated international intervention into Somalia. The dusty, bloody and chaotic streets and markets of Mogadishu taught that considerable advantages in technology and military firepower are by themselves not enough, and can be countered by relatively rudimentary `Kalashnikov' weaponry. It also showed, again, that the military cannot by itself win the battle, but only hold the ring enabling the local actors to make the right decisions about their future. If they do not want to - or cannot - make these, then the military's role is largely superfluous. Insurgencies are beaten by local actors and local governments, not foreigners, and victory requires at least as much political will as it does military might.
Such assertions raise two issues for states of the Western alliance. The first concerns their force posture, training and equipment over the next generation. The threat of proxy warfare suggests that land forces and equipment to counter asymmetric warfare - mine-proof vehicles, helicopters and other transports, intelligence, and special forces - will be at a premium. And whilst it is a long-term guarantee against the unthinkable, it is uncertain what the tactical value of nuclear deterrent is against an irrational and nihilistic foe.
The second is a more pressing, yet ongoing point: how to repair those states that serve both as flashpoints of conflict and harbours for terrorist activities. This is as much a long-term issue as it is an immediate challenge in countries in Africa, including Somalia and Guinea, but especially in Afghanistan. To this Afghan dilemma, a choice has been advanced as a solution: get in deeper in working out a political and development solution; or get out by focusing on the security aspect alone, turning Afghanistan into a counter-terrorist operation. The answer to this dilemma holds solutions for countries elsewhere on the path from fragility and conflict to sustainable development, just as it points to the nature of future war on which this compendium is focused.